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Skills represent the refined abilities that Characters have developed over time. Skills typically provide the largest number of bonus successes on a roll and so are often a character's primary focus for advancement. This section outlines how to uses skill, the available skills in the ADS system, and the uses of each skill.

Skill Tests

Combat Skill Tests

Combat skill checks are typically opposed tests against an opponent’s relevant combat skill as listed below where the attacker must beat the defenders roll.  In the event of a tie, the defender wins.  In instances where a defender chooses not to or is unable to roll an opposing test, the attacker’s test automatically succeeds so long as they roll at least a 1 on the relevant skill test.

  • Melee Skill: Opposed by defense rolls (Duck, Dodge, Block, Parry)
  • Ballistic Skills (Archery, Gunnery, Heavy Gunnery): Opposed by defense rolls (Duck, Dodge, Block, Parry)
  • Duck: Opposes Melee Skill, Ballistic Skills (Archery, Gunnery, Heavy Gunnery)
  • Resolve: Mental defense and fortitude, also used to stay conscious when out of Stamina and wounded.

Non-Combat Skill Tests

Non-combat skill tests are most commonly ‘passive’ skill tests where a player rolls against a set Test/Task Difficulty (TD).  In most cases TD will be set by the GM.  If the player rolls greater than or equal to the TD, the test passes.  If the player rolls less than the TD, then the skill test fails.

Some non-combat skills are opposed tests as noted in their individual entries.  For these skills, the player must beat the opposed roll.  In the event of a tie the ‘defender’ wins.  For instance, if a player rolls a Stealth test and the ‘defending’ NPC rolls Awareness and a tie results, then the NPC wins the roll and spots or hears the player character.

Extended Skill Tests

Sometimes a character will undertake a task that takes a significant amount of time such as trying to decipher a complicated ritual, craft a new weapon, or scale a difficult cliff.  In these instances, and others like them, an Extended Skill Test will be called for.

There are two different Task Difficulties (TD) that a character need be concerned with when undertaking an Extended Skill Test.  The first is the Incremental TD (ITD).  This is the TD that a player has to beat in order to make progress on the overall test.  The second is the Total TD (TTD).  At each time increment (as set by guidelines or the GM) the player will roll a normal skill test against the Incremental TD. If the character meets or beats the the Incremental TD, they have made progress and apply all success from that roll toward the Total TD. Characters need to achieve enough successes in this way to add up to beat the Total TD. If the player is able to roll enough successes to add up to beat the Total TD, then the Extended Test passes and the character is successful.

While taking an extended test, if the player rolls lower than the Incremental TD, no progress is made.  If the player fails a second (or more times) in a row, the player will have to deduct successes from their accumulated total equal to the number of successes they failed by.  If a player should happen to fail four subsequent times in a row however, they have completely botched whatever it was they were trying to attempt; all progress has been lost as well as half of the required materials for the project, if any. In some circumstances, such as scaling a cliff, this may put the character in danger, which should be address appropriately.

Skill Test Durations

Outside of combat, there is typically no need to track time in an exact fashion. As such, how long a skill test takes to complete can vary depending on narrative purposes. As a general rule though, a typical skill test should only take between a few minutes to around an hour or so. If it matters, it's up to the GM to make the determination on how long a skill test takes, however for actions that take longer than an hour or so, GMs should consider making the action an Extended Skill Test; see above for more information on Extended Skill tests.

Defaulting on a Roll

In situations where a character has plenty of time to deal with a task, and there is no significant penalty for failure, their player may opt to take a "Default Roll" instead of rolling. There are three types of "Defaults" which may be taken: Quick, Normal, and Diligent. GMs should take care to limit the ability of players to default only to appropriate situations, and only the appropriate types of defaults for the time available. Generally speaking, characters should not be able to "Default" during combat, though there may be certain circumstances where this is allowable at the GM's discretion.

Quick Defaults

  • dT/2 + Rank x1 + RR/3

Quick Defaults take up to three (3) times the normal amount of time as a regular action; just slow enough to ensure a consistent result, while still working quickly. When using a Quick Default, a character may take one (1) success for every two dT they would normally roll, rounding down, one (1) success from every Skill rank they have, and one additional success for every three (3) re-rolls they would normally have. All normal modifiers that would apply to a roll still apply to the Quick Default, including bonuses from Talents, etc. For instance, if a character with a Characteristic of 5, a Skill rank of 2 and 3 rerolls would normally roll [5dT+2 re-roll 3] for a particular skill test, when taking a Quick Default they may take an automatic 5 [5/2+2+3/3= 5] successes instead.

Normal Defaults

  • dT x1 + Rank x1 + RR/2

Normal Defaults represent the pace that a character would typically work at in an unrushed, steady fashion. Normal Defaults take ten (10) times the typical amount of time as a regular roll, but confer more significant bonuses over a typical roll. When taking a Normal Default, a character may take one (1) success for every dT they would normally roll, one (1) success from every Skill rank they have, and one additional success for every two (2) re-rolls they would normally have. All normal modifiers that would apply to a roll still apply to the ‘Defaulted Roll’, including bonuses from Talents, etc. For instance, if a character with a Characteristic of 5, a Skill rank of 2 and 3 rerolls would normally roll [5dT+2 re-roll 3] for a particular skill test, when taking a Normal Default they may take an automatic 8 (5+2+3/3= 8) successes instead.

Diligent Defaults

  • dT x1 + Rank x2 + RR x1

Diligent Defaults represent the pace that a character works at taking extra time, focusing on details, taking breaks, and doing research or engaging in other activities that will greatly improve the end result. Diligent Defaults take 20 times the typical amount of time as a regular roll, but confer considerable bonuses over a typical roll. When taking an Diligent Default, a character may take one (1) success for every dT they would normally roll, they may take one additional success for every one (1) re-roll they would normally have, and skill ranks count for double (x2). All normal modifiers that would apply to a roll still apply to the Diligent Default, including bonuses from Talents, etc. For instance, if a character with a Characteristic of 5, a Skill rank of 2 and 3 rerolls would normally roll [5dT+2 re-roll 3] for a particular skill test, when taking an Diligent Default they may take an automatic 12 (5+2*2+3/3= 12) successes instead.

Working Collaboratively

In some instances, it is beneficial for characters to work together to accomplish a task together by working collaboratively. In this way, characters may be able to accomplish more difficult tasks or accomplish a task faster than they could on their own. When a group of two or more characters work together on a single skill test, all characters roll a relevant skill test for the task being undertaken. The character which rolled the highest number of successes uses their roll as the base for the rest of the roll. All characters that participated in the collaboration that have ranks in the relevant skill add additional successes equal to one-third (1/3rd) of their roll, rounded down, minimum of one. All other characters that achieved at least two (2) successes on their skill test that do not have ranks in the relevant skill still add one (1) additional success to the total.

Working collaboratively takes more time and effort and so may only be undertaken whenever there is adequate time available. Furthermore, due to the oft complicated nature of working with groups, characters may not Default while working collaboratively.

GMs should limit the amount of characters that are allowed to collaborate on a single task. For example, it simply doesn't make sense for eight people to be able to help pick a lock. Likewise, there may be some tasks which only a single person may perform effectively. In those situations, GMs should not allow collaborative actions.

Skills Listing

Combat Skills

  • Melee (Ag): Governs the use of hand to hand weapons and unarmed combat
  • Archery (Per): Governs the use of crossbows, long and short bows, and other simple ranged weapons
  • Gunnery (Per): Governs the use of most guns
  • Heavy Gunnery (Per): Governs the use of heavy guns, such as mounted weapons
  • Duck (Ag & Per): Governs avoiding attacks of all kinds.  Special skill - see description
  • Arcana (Int or WP): Governs the power and casting of Arkane spells
  • Divinity (Cha): Governs the usage of Faith abilities
  • Psy (WP): Governs the usage of Psychic powers and abilities
  • Resolve (WP): Governs mental defense of all kinds

Non-Combat Skills

  • Acrobatics (Ag): Governs jumping, tumbling, rolling or other feats of acrobatic skill
  • Athletics (S): Governs climbing, swimming, and other feats of athletic skill or strength
  • Awareness (Per): Governs the ability to spot or hear something and search for objects
  • Contacts (Cha): Governs how extensive a character's network of allies is and their ability to gather general information from the local populace
  • Craft [Group] (Int): Group of skills governing the creation of items
  • Intimidate (WP): Governs the intimidation or extracting of information from an unwilling individual
  • Lore (Int): Governs knowledge and understanding of history
  • Medicine (Int): Governs the use of first aid, drug administration, and medical care
  • Mechanics (Int): Governs the use of use, repair, and construction of mechanical items
  • Operate [Group] (Ag): Group of skills governing the ability to control advanced vehicles or equipment
  • Perform (Cha): Governs the ability to give any kind of performance
  • Presence (Cha): Governs social interactions such as charming, seducing, lying, and bartering
  • Ride (Ag): Governs one’s ability to ride an animal while performing complicated actions
  • Scrutiny (Per): Governs one’s ability to determine fact from fiction, determine if someone is lying, and look for minute details
  • Sleight of Hand (Ag): Governs picking locks or pockets and other feats of manual dexterity
  • Stealth (Ag): Governs one’s ability to hide, remain unheard, and disguise oneself
  • Survival (WP): Governs one’s ability navigate and to survive outside of normal civilization
  • Tinker (Int): Governs cob-jobbing things together, battlefield repairs, and jury-rigging mechanical items
  • Wrangling (Cha): Governs handling and training animals or unintelligent monsters

Skill Descriptions


Primary Characteristic: Agility

Acrobatics governs how well a character is able to leap, roll, tumble, and perform other such demanding feats as might be required of someone undertaking the dangerous work Crack Teams so often find themselves engaged in.


Primary Characteristic: Strength

Athletics governs how well a character is able to perform common physical tasks such as running, climbing, swimming, and other feats of physical prowess and raw athleticism.  Athletics is used for most any purely physical based skill test to include basic tests of strength and the like.  The logic here is that while the Strength characteristic is a character’s representation of how strong they are, Athletics represents how well they are able to use and apply that strength.


Primary Characteristic: Perception

Archery governs the use of all bows, crossbows, slings, bolas, and occasionally other assorted ranged weapons.  Characters with this skill have at least some training with these weapons.  While many may consider the bows and crossbows and the like to be archaic weapons, those that can use them effectively know the advantage of a skilled, silent archer.  The wealth of different attachments and configurations available for modern versions of these weapons further improve their usefulness and versatility.


Primary Characteristic: Intelligence


Primary Characteristic: Perception


Primary Characteristic: Intelligence

Craft denotes a group of related skills that allow a character to create or repair an item from component parts.  Each sub-group of the Craft skill allows the character to create items that fall within that sub-group provided they have the component parts as well as the schematics or experience to assemble the item in question.

Craft Sub-Groups
  • Carpentry - Allows a character to build and repair wooden structures or furniture
  • Chemistry - Allows a character to prepare or create various chemical compounds
  • Electronics - Allows a character to build and repair electronic devices of all kinds including drones.
  • Forging - Allows a character to design and make items from raw metal using modern blacksmithing techniques
  • Mechanics - Allows a character to build or repair mechanical devices such as engines
  • Weaponry  -


Primary Characteristic: Agility and Perception

Duck allows characters to prevent taking damage from melee or ranged attacks by either avoiding them completely or taking the blow in such a way that the force does no lasting harm.  Defense is a special skill that is not raised normally as other skills are.  For Duck all characters roll a number of dT equal to their Perception characteristic plus their Agility characteristic and then add any additional modifiers as normal. A character also receives a number of re-rolls equal to their Intelligence all Duck tests. Characters cannot raise their Duck skill by any means, though some Feats or Talents may grant bonuses to defensive rolls which may apply to Duck tests.


Primary Characteristic: Charisma


Primary Characteristic: Perception

Heavy Gunnery

Primary Characteristic: Perception


Primary Characteristic: Willpower


Primary Characteristic: Willpower


Primary Characteristic: Intelligence

Lore represents how familiar a character is with general knowledge and history.  This skill will usually correspond to a character's level of formal education, though it may also encompass life experience and other similar means of learning about the world.

Lore tests can cover anything from basic mathematics to history to anything else that might be considered “common knowledge” to someone with the appropriate level of education.  More esoteric knowledge is also covered by the Lore skill, but generally has exceedingly high difficulties unless the character possesses an appropriate Talent.


Primary Characteristic: Intelligence


Primary Characteristic: Intelligence

Medicine allows a character to perform first aid or long term medical care on either themselves or another character.

First Aid

During combat, a character may attempt to perform First Aid as an action, talking 3 ticks for both the character giving aid and the one receiving it. To supply first aid, a character will roll a standard Medicine test. For every two (2) successes the character achieves, they grant one (1) point of stamina back to the character they are aiding.

Wounds may not be healed using First Aid during Combat however a character can make a First Aid test after combat had ended to restore a small number of Wounds. After combat has ended, a character may take a Medicine test to heal one (1) Wound per five (5) successes, up to the amount a character took during the preceding combat. First Aid cannot be used to heal wounds received during any other combat or circumstance other than those which immediately preceded its use.

At the GMs discretion, First Aid can be used to heal Wounds taken outside of combat, assuming it is used within a reasonable time period of when the character incurred the wounds.

Long-Term Care

Medicine can be used to administer long-term care to a heavily wounded patient. This is an extended skill test with a Total Task Difficulty (TTD) equal to the number of wounds the character receiving care currently has. The base Incremental TD for long-term care should be two to three (2-3), however the GM may choose to increase or decrease the ITD based on the severity of the patient's wounds, the circumstances under which they received the wounds, or other such appropriate reasons. The time increment for Long Term care is two (2) days. The patient may likewise choose to stop receiving care before they are fully healed. If either the care-giver or the patient choose to end long-term care early, the patient does not lose any wounds they healed previously. If a care-giver fails multiple medicine tests in a row, they will deal Wounds back to their patient equal to the amount which they failed their medicine test by in the same fashion as losing progress on a normal extended skill test.

While under long-term care, a patient may take no actions other than eating, sleeping, and bed rest. A character can choose to stop giving long-term care care before their patient is fully healed at no penalty. While under long-term care, a patient does not heal wounds at their normal rate, instead relying on the care-giver's Medicine tests to heal their wounds.

A care-giver may provide long-term care to a number of patients at the same time equal to their rank in the Medicine skill. Groups of care-givers can all provide care to the same patients, pooling their total skill ranks to determine how many patients the group may care for. When working together to care for patients, care-givers gain bonuses on their Medicine test as normal for working collaboratively.


Primary Characteristic: Agility


Primary Characteristic: Agility

Operate Sub-Groups

  • Airship
  • Steambike
  • Train


Primary Characteristic: Charisma


Primary Characteristic: Willpower


Primary Characteristic: Willpower


Primary Characteristic: Perception

Sleight of Hand

Primary Characteristic: Agility


Primary Characteristic: Agility


Primary Characteristic: Willpower


Primary Characteristic: Intelligence


Primary Characteristic: Charisma

Example Skill Difficulties

(Meta: Needs to be adjusted somewhat)

  • 0 - Common, ordinary everyday task. No test is typically required for a task of this difficulty.
    • Examples: Swimming in a calm lake, rowing a boat down a calm river with the current.
  • 1 - Common task requiring little skill or ability
    • Examples: Navigating through the the town where you grew up, knitting a blanket.
  • 2 - Common task requiring some skill.
    • Examples: Shoeing a horse, picking a poor lock
  • 3 - Common task requiring a degree of skill
    • Examples: Forging a common sword, navigating unfamiliar terrain, finding food in an unfamiliar forest, picking a common lock
  • 4 - Tasks requiring a moderate degree of skill
    • Examples: Picking an uncommon lock, rowing a boat upriver on choppy waters, constructing simple mechanikal devices i.e clocks
  • 5 - Tasks requiring a high degree of skill
    • Examples:
  • 6 - Tasks requiring a great deal of skill.  The most complicated tasks most normal people will ever attempt
    • Examples: Navigating a ship through storm-tossed seas, constructing simple Archanik devices
  • 7 - Tasks requiring an even greater deal of skill
    • Examples:
  • 8 - Task requiring amongst the greatest degree of skill.  Those capable of performing tasks of this level are considered masters of their trade by mortals.
  • 9 - Tasks at the upper limit of mortal capability.
  • 10 -
  • 11 -
  • 12 -
  • 13 -
  • 14 -
  • 15 -
  • 16+ - Truly Epic tasks beyond all but the most powerful of beings.
    • Examples: The forging of The Core, breaking the boundaries of time and space